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Recognising Catherine Karimi: The Teacher Who Went On To Become APA Life Assurance CEO 

By Prudence Minayo

Catherine Karimi is an experienced Insurance Executive with over two decades working in the industry. A teacher by profession, she wanted to do something that would foster her love for Mathematics hence her foray into the world of Insurance. In 2017, she was appointed APA Life Insurance Company CEO. This made her the first woman CEO in the APA/Apollo Group. Four years into her tenure, the company saw revenues increase by 40% and assets by about 50%. This has been attributed to the fact that she has fought for the development of innovative products like Upendo and creating a conducive environment for customers. 

She was among the top 10 finalists at the Angaza Awards and won the CEO of the Year Award by Think Business Insurance Awards 2020. Away from business, she also participates in charity work. 

Here is her story as told by WoK


From January 2000 to October 2009, she served as a team leader- corporate life business at Jubilee Insurance Company limited. Her duties included preparing contracts and ensuring legal compliance, supervising a team of five, and following up and ensuring prompt settlements of premiums and commissions to intermediaries. 

From November 2009 to September 2010, she worked as a team leader, retail life business at Jubilee Insurance Company limited. In this role, she supervised a team of six, ensured new clients’ contract documents were on time, and issued new individual life business and ensured the required turnaround times were fulfilled, among other duties. 

From 2010 to 2014, she was the operations manager- life business. Her duties included managing customer service processes, supporting business development initiatives and product development, and implementation of a new Information Technology system for managing Life Business. 

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In October 2014, she joined Kenya Alliance Insurance Company as the Chief operating officer- life. In April 2016, she became Acting Managing Director. She was tasked with steering the business towards growth, profits, and shareholder returns for the composite company. 

In February 2017, she was appointed Chief Executive Officer and Principal Officer at APA Life Assurance Company. 


While she was in high school, she failed Mathematics terribly but at the end of Form 2 was determined to make improvements. Thus, she went from a D in Mathematics to an A and managed to become the top girl in her school in KCSE. This experience taught her that nothing was impossible. 

She graduated with a Bachelor of Education (Science) degree from Kenyatta University. She got first class honors in her Mathematics and chemistry major. The experienced Insurance Executive has also gone through the Senior Management Leadership Training with Strathmore Business School and has a background in Actuarial Studies from Institute of Actuaries, UK. 


Catherine Karimi is a mother and a wife. Having a successful career has not prevented her from being present in her family. 

“When it is time for my family, it is strictly time for my family, when it is about work, I stay dedicated to working,” she revealed in a past interview.